There will be no large-scale shifting of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan to help with disaster relief in Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, a U.S. Central Command spokesman said Thursday.
Lt. Col. Trey Cate, based in Qatar, said top military officials are exploring ways to bring individual troops home to take care of families in need without altering the balance of forces in the war zones.
But top brass is unsure if homecoming service members can yet visit areas stricken by Katrina due to flooding and evacuation orders.
"There are lots of different options of getting soldiers back there," said Cate. "We're going to do our best to take care of the troops and their families."
Navy Cmdr. Jeff Breslau, a U.S. 5th Fleet spokesman in Bahrain, said no U.S. warships in the Gulf would be redirected to disaster relief in the Gulf of Mexico, but individual sailors with family emergencies could be granted home leave.
National Guard units called up for rescue work in Louisiana and Mississippi had to make do without members currently deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
National Guard troops from Alabama and Wisconsin, along with other law enforcers, were ordered to deal with the shortfall.
Most Americans identify the National Guard with providing emergency services during natural disasters. But over the past three years, numerous Guard units have been sent to Iraq to fight alongside regular forces.
A brigade of roughly 5,000 soldiers from the Louisiana National Guard watched the disaster unfold on television, as they finished their nearly yearlong deployment on Camp Liberty, west of Baghdad.